Tag Archives: China

China highlights – Hong Kong

We had the pleasure of ending our trip in Hong Kong and stayed there for five days.

It’s a vibrant, bustling city with plenty of activities to keep you busy.

It was our first time there and we adored the city. We stayed on the Kowloon side in the absolutely amazing Intercontinental hotel. Thankfully this hotel also had an awesome gym so we could run on the treadmills and use their strength equipment.

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view from our room during the day

Again, we walked for hours every day and wouldn’t get back to our hotel until well after dark each night.

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view from our room at night

Here are some highlights from our stay in Hong Kong:

Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery

The Tian Tin Buddha on Lantau Island sits over 30 metres high and faces north to look over the people of China.

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We hopped on a glass-bottomed cable car and had incredible views of Hong Kong, the airport, and the lush mountains.

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You can climb nearly 300 steps to get a closer look at Buddha and the sweeping ocean views.

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There is also a monastery with beautiful gardens and vegetarian food.

Hong Kong Disney

We are Disney fans and were really looking forward to escaping the city and acting like little kids.

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It was magical there, just like the other Disney parks. We had a blast on the rides, at some of the shows, seeing the little girls dressed as princesses, and watching the parade and the fireworks.

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Ocean Park Hong Kong

All the locals we talked to encouraged us to hit Ocean Park. I’d describe it as Seaworld with crazy rides and a picturesque location on the cliffs overlooking the ocean.

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We spent a day there, and after a rocky start, loved our time at the park. I’m afraid of heights and this cable car ride nearly did me in! It was beautiful, but I was terrified the entire ride!

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I wasn’t in the mood to scare myself more so opted out of the scary rides Kelly went on.I enjoyed some tame rides and a lot of animal exhibits!

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What I liked best about Ocean Park was their conservation efforts and education. I would highly recommend this park.

Shopping

We had a blast walking through the crowded streets and stopping to shop along the way. They had a couple fun markets: the Ladies’ Market and Temple Street Night Market, which were both great for haggling for good bargains.

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Victoria Harbour

Our hotel was right on Victoria Harbour and we had sweeping views of the skyline and the boats as they passed.

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It was also a skip to the Avenue of Stars and to watch the Symphony of Lights, a nightly laser show.

Hiking

We were awed by the contrast between city and urban and rural. On our way up to Big Buddha, we were surprised to see hikers underneath the cable car. On our last full day in Hong Kong, Kelly and I decided to go back and hike up.

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It was an amazing, challenging hike. It was hot and humid, and the majority of the hike was up steep stairs. I was breathing heavily and mopping sweat off my forehead in no time!

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We didn’t make it to the top, as there was a pack of wild dogs that I refused to pass! We still had an absolutely incredible time in the lush green hills and caught some great views.

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Once of the best parts of Hong Kong was that you could do ‘big city’ attractions, or take a quick train ride and feel like you were out of the city. Their public transportation was very user-friendly and safe.

We had such a great time in Hong Kong and really enjoyed experiencing China with Kelly’s parents.

Our entire 32 days were a whirlwind of incredible sights, fascinating culture, foreign food, and fabulous memories.

(Read the other recaps: Bangkok, Thailand; Pattaya, Thailand; Koh Samui, Thailand; Beijing and Tianjin, China; Xiamen, China.)

Have you ever been to Hong Kong? What’s your favourite Disney park? 

China highlights – Xiamen

We left Tianjin and flew south to Xiamen, a port city with warm weather and palm trees!

We stayed on a gorgeous canal and were finally able to run outside along the water.

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It was great to run in the warmth, but it was tough on our knees! All the sidewalks were made of granite.

We walked around a lot, enjoyed their main shopping street, ate great Italian, and visited Gulangyu Island.

Gulanygu is a pedestrian-only island popular among Chinese honeymooners. The narrow streets together with the architecture give the island a European feel.

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Zhongshan Road is a pedestrian shopping street. There are tons of boutique stores and tea shops everywhere.

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It’s a great place to people watch (plenty of adorable Chinese kids) and take in the local culture.

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We had a lot of fun in Xiamen but couldn’t wait to get to Hong Kong!!

China highlights – Beijing

Kelly and I were in China for two weeks. Time flew by, as we stayed in four places and were incredibly busy in each city!

We met his parents in Beijing, and although we were flying in from Bangkok and they were coming from Vancouver, we landed only a few minutes apart. It was nice to see familiar faces!

We arrived late in the evening so headed to our hotel, the beautiful Marriott Northeast. (This hotel had an amazing pool and gym, which was very necessary. With the poor air quality and traffic, we couldn’t run outside.)

Our room had the nicest bathroom I’ve ever been in.

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Luckily, only our first day there was smoggy. However, the air quality was even worse as there were extreme winds causing a sandstorm. The air quality that day was past the hazardous level.

The next few days were a whirlwind of touring…

Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China is over 8,800 km long (5,500 miles) and took nearly 2,000 years to construct. It was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007.

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We visited the Badaling section, which is the most well-preserved section and the most popular.

I’m not sure what it was about walking on the Wall, but I absolutely loved our day there. It was still freezing (about -15 Celsius with the windchill) despite working hard to climb some of the steep sections.

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Kelly and I discussed how fun (and crazy hard) it would be to run the Great Wall Marathon one day.

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Forbidden City

The Forbidden City is in the centre of Beijing and was the imperial palace throughout two dynasties. It is the world’s largest palace complex and is surrounded by a moat and 10-metre high wall. Apparently there are about 9,000 rooms. It took us a couple hours just to go from one end to the other!

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It was another freezing cold day when we toured, so I didn’t enjoy it as much as I would have if it were warmer! The entire place was incredibly beautiful with such detailed architecture.

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My favourite part was the Imperial Gardens. Even in winter, you could see it’s natural beauty.

Tiananmen Square

It’s literally just a large square located across the street from the Forbidden City. It was also the location of deadly protests in the late ‘80’s. It was completely closed to the public when we were there.  The Communist party was voting for a new leader, which only occurs once every decade.

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Silk Market

Kelly and I had a lot of laughs at the Silk Market, which turned out to be a large mall with tiny stores selling everything you could think of. Kelly made the mistake of asking the price on jade foodogs. The lady kept pushing and slapping him, not letting him leave her store. I got out and was laughing so hard at the bewildered look on his face. He ended up buying them so he could leave; maybe that’s not such a bad sales tactic after all?!

Hutongs

We went to the hutongs after we walked through the Forbidden City. Hutongs are basically just alleyways and courtyards and are very ‘old Beijing’. There are literally thousands of them throughout the city.

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We went to a beautiful Hutong area with a large lake and tons of restaurants and little shops. It would be incredible in summer.

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We saw lots of fun things including water painting (the cutest old gentleman wanted me to do it), mahjong gambling, polar bear swimmers, and older people playing ancient instruments and singing.

Best photo ever!

Best photo ever!

Kelly and I had so much fun that we went back the next day.

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It was a lot warmer, so we rented bikes and cruised around the hutongs in style!

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It was the most fun we had in Beijing.

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Wangfujing

This is an awesome walking street in the heart of Beijing, full of huge malls and some cute markets on side streets.

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The Adidas Boost was released the day we were here, and they had a fun obstacle course you could run to test the new shoes.

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Kelly did it, and I laughed so hard as they kept trying to talk to him in Mandarin expecting answers each time.

We also saw some good eats!

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Beijing is a great city with a lot of culture and history. You are required to apply for a visa before entering the country. However, I just read about a 72-hour visa waiver that began in January for those who just want a few days in Beijing or Shanghai. Although it would be a whirlwind, I think you could definitely hit Beijing’s hotspots in 72 hours.

Tianjin

From Beijing we travelled to Tianjin for one night. It was a very quick trip and before we knew it we were off to Xiamen in southern China.

Have you ever been to China?

What international marathon is on your bucket list?

Home from the holidays

From the beaches of Thailand, to the Great Wall of China, to the skyscrapers of Hong Kong, our trip was absolutely incredible.

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We were gone for 32 days, stayed in seven places, went from +39 degrees Celsius (49 with humidity in Bangkok) to -15 (Great Wall of China near Beijing), ate too much food, and experienced a lot of culture!

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We got back late Thursday so luckily had the weekend to do laundry, get the house in order, and catch up on sleep before heading back to work after five weeks off.

And of course, pour all our love onto this guy that we missed so much!

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I’ll do a few recaps of our trip, but for now I just wanted to pop in and say hi!

I’m sure this week will be a busy one getting back into the swing of things at work and doing my best to {smartly} pick up training for Ironman Coeur d’Alene, which is now less than 14 weeks away!

What are some highlights from your life when I was away?

 

Bon Voyage!

We’re super excited to go on our adventure! We’re leaving a little earlier than originally planned and are flying out Sunday morning.

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Packing wasn’t easy, but it’s done. We’re gone for almost five weeks. And we’ll be going from +36 degree weather to potentially as cold as -10 degrees. It was tough to pack for three different climates! It’s safe to say I’ll be wearing the same clothes often!

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Saying goodbye to this face for that long won’t be easy either. At least we know he’s well taken care of by Kelly’s parents and my parents.

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I just wanted to stop in and say sawatdee kha and ni hao (hello) before we head out. I probably won’t post much, if at all, while we’re away. I have a couple of posts set to publish but that’s it.

I’ll miss reading your blogs and keeping up to date with your lives! Enjoy your month, stay healthy, and run happy!

Asian adventures

“The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.” – Rudyard Kipling

I’ve mentioned before that we have an exciting year ahead.

We love to travel but once we moved out and got adult jobs, it became more difficult to go on real adventure trips.

We’ve still managed to travel a lot and make amazing memories, but none have been the big, foreign adventure I crave.

That craving will be satisfied for a little while! In exactly two weeks we’re heading to Thailand and China for four weeks.

We were in Thailand eight years ago and can’t wait to go back.

That's Kelly swimming!

That’s Kelly swimming!

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It’ll be our first time visiting China, which will be a lot of fun to explore somewhere new (minus the hazardous smog)!

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Great Wall of China in winter.
(Click photo for credit.)

We’re only going to two places in Thailand (Koh Samui and Bangkok) and hitting four places in China. It’ll be a whirlwind trip but so amazing.

This is where a couple of my resolutions come in to play: don’t stress about missed workouts and race for fun!

When we’re in Asia, we’ll only be running and I’ll have to be careful with all my knee issues. (Although I love to run on holidays, I want to get in all the sightseeing too!)

We’ll have a very short time to train for Ironman Coeur d’Alene when we get back. (We’ll only have 14 weeks including taper time- yikes.) I could stress about that (and I have started to panic sometimes), but I’d much rather have an adventurous trip and go into the Ironman less prepared than skip the trip and have a lot of training under my race belt.

So, exciting times coming in the next seven months with four weeks in Asia and two Ironman races. I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds!

Have you been to Thailand or China? What place would you most like to travel to?